“Don’t grow up, it’s a trap!” is one of my favourite quotes that reminds me to embrace my inner child through adulthood. But what does that mean? The dictionary definition of ‘inner child’ is ‘“the childlike usually hidden part of a person’s personality that is characterised by playfulness, spontaneity, and creativity” (Mirriam-Webster.com). When we are children (or more precisely teenagers) we spend so much time acting older than we are and can’t wait to be adults (unlike Peter Pan), but when we actually reach adulthood and face the stresses and responsibilities that can come with it, we are not so keen anymore. Children are playful, spontaneous, creative, curious and carefree but we often forget to use these attributes in adulthood. We might be worried that people will describe us as ‘immature’, ‘childish’ or ‘juvenile’, but adopting a childlike view on life and involving a bit (or a lot) of silliness can help us to enjoy ourselves much more. Don’t get me wrong, I am a grown-up when I need to be – I work hard, pay my bills, make lists, run errands, drive safely and do other things that grown-ups need to do. However, whenever I don’t need to be a grown up, I make sure I embrace my inner child so as not to lose my zest for life; donning bright colours, glitter and a dinosaur tail are never far from my thoughts. In this blog, I will describe five ways that you can have fun getting back in touch with your inner child.
1. Live in the moment
“As adults, we are always looking for the end destination of happiness; embracing your inner child will assist you to reconnect with finding contentment in the moment and relish life’s journey”, explains Nicky Taylor, co-author of Be More Kid. Children don’t dwell on the past, nor do they focus on the future. They live for the ‘now’. They make the most of what they are doing in the present moment and enjoy it as much as they can. How often do you do that? Do you ever hold back from opportunities because you think it might affect events that are yet to happen in your future or you feel you don’t have enough money or time? If you wait for things to change, you might miss the opportunity to be happy in the moment. Live within your means, but this can still include a lot of exciting opportunities. Deal with the future when it comes and live in the magic of here and now. Put down your phone and be aware of the beauty all around you. Enjoy living in the moment with your friends and family – “happiness is a journey, not a destination”. Enjoy the journey.
2. Have fun and play more!
In her book, Icecream for Breakfast, Laura Jane Williams describes a day when she witnessed a child dancing happily in the aisle of a pharmacy. The child’s mum told her to stop dancing, but why? The child wasn’t hurting anyone, she was just having fun and keeping herself entertained. She was being a child – “silly and cute and free”. The mum was probably feeling self-conscious and felt embarrassed but she had no need to be. I know that if I was a bystander in that pharmacy, the sight of the dancing child would have made me smile and probably start grooving as well. Williams advises that “to be less self-conscious, we have to remind ourselves that folks just aren’t thinking of us as much as we worry they are”. Instead, they are too busy being self-conscious themselves to notice you and the thing you are feeling self-conscious about. So, in summary, be like that dancing child. Do something fun and possibly unexpected. Have a weekly kitchen disco with your family like Sophie Ellis-Bexter did every Friday during lockdown wearing sparkly outfits and comical headwear; jump in puddles, play hide and seek, or do whatever else it is that brings you joy and stop taking yourself too seriously.
3. Revisit your childhood interests and dreams
What were your interests and dreams as a child? Do you still have them? If not, why not? If you can’t think of a reason why you stopped, then it’s never too late to start them up again. I played the piano when I was younger and stopped because I didn’t want to go through the grades but now I’m an adult I’m determined to play again for fun. If you wanted to be a ballerina or football star when you were younger, and dancing and football are still important to you, why don’t you take dance lessons or join a local football team? Here are a few possible childhood interests to get you started:
- Flower pressing
- Comic book art
- Wearing fancy dress
- Keeping a diary
- Listening to music and dancing around the house
- Playing card and board games
- Building a fort in your living room
- Camping in the garden
- Having a water fight
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Playing on a pogo stick
- Building sandcastles
- Baking cookies
- Climbing trees
- Ten pin bowling
- Collecting items (stamps, rocks, shells, coins, stickers, etc.)
- Playing hide and seek
- Eating ice cream for breakfast
- Reading aloud to your partner, children, friends using funny voices
- Revisiting old fads from your schooldays. Mine included: yoyos with ball bearings, tamagotchis, Tetris, conker fights and pogz.
There are lots more brilliant ideas found at the Laughter Online University.
The pandemic has no doubt aged us but, in the depths of lockdown, many people revisited or took up new hobbies and challenges. I learnt to juggle, played a lot more Scrabble, took part in disco yoga, learnt to do a swivel step dance move and regularly wore fancy dress. If you got creative with your interests during the pandemic, I hope it continues. If you haven’t yet revisited a childhood interest or tried something new, I urge you to give it a go. You could create a bucket list of things you want to do/achieve before a certain age. For example, I had a ‘30 things to do before I turn 30 list’ and I achieved most of them whilst having a lot of fun along the way – one of my aims was to climb a tree in every park in London. Many a tree was climbed.
4. Be spontaneous
As adults, we often like to plan things in advance or do research before we commit to something. It is also a strong possibility that we might overthink something and end up thinking of too many reasons for us not to do something. Often we might think of the things that might go wrong so we decide to remain safe and take the risk. However, at times it’s best to not overthink it. Instead, be a little impulsive and think about everything going right instead of wrong. This might involve things as trivial as eating breakfast for dinner (one of my favourite things to do) or buying something that caught your eye in a shop to water-skiing, hiking in a jungle or booking an adventurous holiday in a country that is unfamiliar to you.
5. Let go of your inhibitions
To me, this is largely linked to the idea of being self-conscious. Our self-consciousness can hold us back and stop us from having fun. Instead of worrying about what other people think, we should be letting ourselves be silly and have a good time. Whether you sing made-up songs at the top of your lungs or dance like no-one’s watching in the middle of a shop.
To end this blog post, I want to share an old Evian commercial where the adults look in the mirror and their child version of themselves is staring back. The adults automatically start having a lot more fun dancing and acting silly. Next time you look in a mirror, remember to try and recapture your childlike spirit as it really does make adulthood much more enjoyable. The best inspiration we have for doing this is spending time with children and at MCM, we are lucky to have many inspirational children who remind us to embrace our inner child.
Miss Lizzie Scanlan | Pre-Prep Form Tutor, Head of Hunt
References and useful reading:
Ice Cream for Breakfast by Laura Jane Williams
Be More Kid: How to escape the grown up trap and live life to the full! by Ed James, Mark Taylor and Nicky Taylor